Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale | Anderson Valley Brewing Company

very good
730 Reviews
Winter Solstice Seasonal AleWinter Solstice Seasonal Ale

Brewed by:
Anderson Valley Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.90%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Winter Solstice® is our take on the classic style of “winter warmer.” Boasting a deep amber hue and rich mouthfeel, its creamy finish will lift your spirits. Hints of toffee, spice, and caramel tease the senses making this the perfect ale to share with friends and family during the cold days and long nights of winter.

Added by maxpower on 11-18-2001

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Reviews: 730 | Ratings: 1,806
Photo of EBeckett3
4.3/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A - Copper to brown with small head & almost no laces
S- Spicy - vanilla? nothing too strong - malt, maybe cinnamon/allspice?
T -Smooth over the tongue, slightly malty, caramel but creamy - like a cream ale, actually.
M- pleasant dry caramel aftertaste with more pronounced spice notes, medium - body. Easily quaffable
O- I've enjoyed the Amber & Hop Ottin', bought it on a whim for $10. Easily worth that - very seissunable! Thoroughly enjoyable.

Poured into a 16 oz pint glass in my kitchen.

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Photo of RunDWP
4.3/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

So far, this is my favorite brew of the winter warmer style, from one of my favorite breweries, Anderson Valley. And the good news about this one is that they resist the temptation to hit you over the head with a bunch of hops like too many other brewers do with their winter warmers.

Looks good in the glass with an auburn orange color and a fluffy white head. Savory spices on the nose. The taste is a bit malty, with savory spices of nutmeg, a little cinnamon, and a little cherry note, with some herbal hops at the finish. Decent heft and carbonation and I found this to be very smooth, drinkable, and enjoyable. Well balanced and moderately complex.

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Photo of Naugled
4.3/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A-Medium amber with a light tan head that settles rapidly. A nice looking beer in the glass.

S-Cola, caramel, cola, caramel...I'm not sure how they pack so much caramel in this. I think it smell like a coke.

T-Again, caramel and cola flavors. I've only ever tasted this extent of caramel in a few beers. In this case the sweetness and malts are well balanced by the hops. I couldn't detect the hops, but they did cut the sweetness just enough to avoid a soda taste. Just the right amount.

M-mild carbonation and a full creamy mouthfeel without being cloying.

D-for it's sweetness this is a very drinkable beer and IMO a great winter warmer.

I also think this might be a good cellaring beer. I plan to store some away.

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Photo of avalon07
4.3/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a copper color and a clear consistency. There was a half inch of long-lasting, creamy head and decent lacing.

S: A very sweet, malty aroma.

T: Tasted of caramel, malt and fruit. Very sweet and bold - much more so than other winter warmers. Has a nice toasty feel to it.

M: A good amount of carbonation with a slightly slick finish. Medium-bodied.

D: In my opinion, a drinkable beer, though I have a feeling this one will not appeal to everyone.

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Photo of FickleBeast
4.3/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a pint glass

Pours clear amber with a finger and a half of foam that leaves moderate lacing.

Aroma is a moderate blend of sweetness and some spice. Not overwhelming or aggressive, but rather subtle.

Taste is an initial rush of sweetness followed by a distinct flavor of holiday spices. This has to be one of the first "spiced" beers that I have legitimately enjoyed the way the spices contribute to the beer's flavor. I also pick up some cherries in the flavor.

This beer has a great mouthfeel - smooth and lightly carbonated. Drinkability is excellent! I regret that I only purchased a single of this beer... I'll have to seek out some more.

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Photo of brentk56
4.3/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a clear copper color with a respectable tan head that leaves some spots of lacing

Smell: Rich caramel aroma with strong vanilla notes; also has some tropical fruit

Taste: Starts out with a rich caramel and vanilla flavor; after the swallow, some nice balancing hop flavors cut into the sweetness and also provide a seasonal spice flavor (cinnamon and nutmeg)

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Extremely well-balanced and flavorful; one of the better winter warmers I have encountered

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Photo of CraftVA
4.3/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A – Distinct amber coloring with a white head about a finger-width thick. Some lacing.

S – Sweet spicy nose with hints of vanilla and malts

T – Warm, vanilla flavor with the spices really coming through. Caramel on the finish.

M – Smooth and creamy, very drinkable and enjoyable.

O – This is one of the best winter spiced beers, it has a great balance of flavor and spice.

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Photo of chilidog
4.3/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I must say, we don't get much if any, Anderson Valley around my area. I picked this Winter Warmer up at my area craft store, The Andersons. More of a novelty & not sure what to expect.
The beer poured a deep ruby red with a half-inch tan head that laced well though faded quickly. The aroma was sweet malted caramel over fruit. The taste carries that sweet fruited base though complex other notes.This brew aided with a spice, vanilla syrup thats hinted with toasted roasted malt and a wooded finish. A full bodied brew with a 6.9% warming trend to the body. A fine winter brew I must say.

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Photo of Beervis
4.3/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a great spiced winter beer!

Pours a deep amber, with a thin white head. Smell is fruity, with hints of spice. It drinks very smooth with a nice warming sensation going down, Mild bitterness on the finish, with very little aftertaste.

Very drinkable!

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Photo of olmatty
4.3/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance- Pours a one finger tan head with poor retention and moderate lacing, a dark brown amber liquid.

Smell- Yeast, Spiciness and dark malts.

Taste- Like delicious malt spice candy. Carmelized sugar and spicy sweetness. Dark amber malts and yeast. Outstanding.

Mouthfeel- Lightly carbonated and very smooth, almost sticky sweet feel.

Drinkability- Smooth and easy drinking, especially for a winter. Just very, very nice all around.

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Photo of ItsTheLimit
4.31/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Perfect beer for a cold night, especially if stouts and other traditionally heavier beers aren't your thing.

Hazy copper color with a thin tight head. White-ish lacing with nice head retention.

Smells of sweet malt, caramel, black licorice, and coriander.

This beer tastes delicious. Warming quality from some alcohol but very balanced. Sweet malt up front with dried fruit, nutmeg, caramel and other spices.

Smooth, creamy mouthfeel makes this an easy drinker, but will definitely warm you up. Nice alcohol heat will make this a great evening-sipper near a fireplace. Really liking this beer.

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Photo of ckornmannn
4.32/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

From a can: light mahogany color, clear. Apple and caramel on the nose- a lot of aroma for this style of beer. The right amount of carbonation. Apple, caramel, breadiness, and a bit of astringency taste wise. This really tastes like an alt beer with some evergreen tips added in. I really like it; would buy it again.

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Photo of Dodo2step
4.32/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

P- Market Cross Pub in Carlisle.

A- love the bottle labeling. Pours a nice creamy nutmeg brown color with a decent head but it runs away from the top quickly.

S- we got some sweet fruity malts. Some nice clove or nutmeg spices as well. Smells of thick caramel come to the front and the back end has mild hops. Its like a caramel apple with nutmeg and clove thrown in on top.

T- a bready caramel flavor that pounds you in the mouth. Spices are more pronounced in the taste than in the smell. Very sugary and fruity. Cinnamon and brown sugar come to the palate after i have had a few more sips.

M- chewy and mouth popping. Full of flavor as far as sugar and malts go. The hops arent there but thats ok i still like the flavor.

D- other than spices it is pretty easy to put back. the spices come out and warm the throat but the after taste is all apice and it is good and bad to some extent. A tad too much.

I love this beer and will look to buy more of it.

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Photo of pnkermiz
4.32/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On draft at Barcade. One of my favorites of the increasing number of winter warmer releases. Reddish amber in color with a spicy malt aroma and a hugely complex flavor of "winter". Caramel and vanilla are very up front with a mixture of dark, sweet fruits (dates, figs, plums) and dark chocolate and spices as well. Warms my stomach every winter and makes me feel like that fireplace video I'm watching has come to life.

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Photo of StevieW
4.32/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I carried this bottle back from my california vacation, I was worried about it's freshness. It seems to have held up. Color I would call more brown than amber, thin head faded fast. Noticable hop smell initially, then as it warms, more spices are very noticable. Faint nutmeg, cinnamon, make a distinct sweet smell. Taste is much the same, hops to start, then lots of unique spices, maybe vanilla, hazelnut, very sublte, though not overly spicy. Very balanced taste and feel. A little thinner on the feel than expected but I found it very drinkable and tasty. I was surprised to see it listed where it is, and not with other seasonals like the Harpoon Winter Warmer, or the SA Celebration Ale, which is the best of the seasonals, IMO.

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Photo of ChrisBowers
4.32/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

One of my all time favorite winter seasonals. Quite unlike anything else out there. Pours a murky reddish amber with a nice head that dissipates to about a finger with some nice lace. Taste is top notch. Fruity, spicy, with some fruity syrupy goodness that adds just the right amount of sweetness. The balance of fruits and spices combined with a dry maltiness makes this beer a phenominal holiday treat. Don't like Anderson Valley's high price tag scare you away, its definitely worth grabbing some of this.

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Photo of EPseja
4.32/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours rusty copper from the bottle with a very slight haze and a nice inch of head which develops over the moments after the bottle is emptied.

The initial smell is that of fresh, cool West Coast hops and sweet, medium bodied crystal malt. Mingling with that is a decent dose of Holiday spice (orange peel? allspice?).

The taste hits with an immediate sugar-candy and caramel sweetness (no doubt from the crystal malt) and a crisp, floral hoppiness. In the mouth, the alcohol becomes more prevalent, but not in a destracting way -- the hops are powerful enough to counter that. Surprisingly, the spices are subdued enough that they only emerge just prior to, and during the finish. The aftertaste is that of a mild IPA coupled with the seasonal spices.

Aside from a few large bubbles visible in the "corners" of the head, this beer is very finely carbonated, giving a smooth, creamy mouthfeel without filling your stomach with CO2.

This beer is easy to drink, and is warming in precisely the way you'd like a nice winter seasonal to be. This is a "no-bloat" beer that you can drink a few of even with or after a nice sized Holiday meal. This beer is recommended for any Wintertime Celebration, and is sure to become a staple in all mine for years to come.

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Photo of dawg
4.32/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured this last one into a stout glass. Had my first in a bottle in a local bar this year. Both were very good.

Pours well. Rich creamy balsa head which sticks around for awhile releasing aroma of fruits and spices. Smells like an exceptional seasonal with, perhaps anise, dark friuts, nuts, cinnamon. Aroma changes as head reduces.

Tastes much like molasses, cherries, spices (perhaps a minor pine taste) and finishes off with an almost candy-like smoothness. Mouthfeel is also creamy with the carbonation expanding the ale as it flows by the toung. Swishing around amplifies this affect. Very pleasant. Some brief traces of alcohol that diminish as the ale expands releasing the spices.

Very easy to enjoy.

As a side note, I've convinced alot of macro beer drinkers to taste this one. Each and every one (many who always refuse to drink "dark beer") enjoy the drinkability.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the can into a nonic pint glass.

A real nice off caramel very light white head, foamy about a good solid three fingers on the pour. Body is a gorgeous dark ruby and clear garnet with no rising carbonation. Looks real nice love this color.

Nose is a noticeable malt that goes in a very mild grass smelling sense. Slight spices, but mostly just a nice malt sensation.

Taste is a wonderful mix of chocolate and malt and mild spices. I it is almost as if drinking milk chocolate with this big noticeable whipped up chocolate sense. Chocolate angle brings out some mild nut, and I got that warm boozy sense in my stomach. Light spice of nutmeg in the middle. Mouthfeel is perfectly fine nothing to rave about or fault.

Overall I am real impressed with this one. It almost feels like drinking powderer cocoa mix with a slight hint of booze. Not even highly sweet either. Just great!

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Photo of Diogenes
4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My first review of any beer. I just tried this up against Anchor's Christmas Ale and found it to be more rounded and mature in both appearance and taste although less robust in general character (Anchor quite nice and I will review that soon). It's a fairly deep amber ale with a relatively small head (considering the thin pilsener style glass I'm using). The taste is balanced, pleasantly sweetly spicy with some room to further mature (but not nearly to the same extent as the Anchor), but drinkable now and in vast quantities if that is your aim. Its aroma matches its clean appearance with the sweet spice hint although I'm at a loss to precisely identify the constituents added to this fine beer. I'm not sure about the "mouthfeel" category in general as most quality beers seem silky to me and the Anderson Valley Winter Solstice 2006 is no different. My inclination is to only highlight mouthfeel when I notice something unusual one way or the other, and this beer has the "right" feel. Overall a particularly enjoyable beer that doesn't beat you over the head with hops like another seasonal ale I tried yesterday. The Winter Solstice is very, sweetly, good - I intend to buy a case! Hope this helps.

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Photo of ZorroZ
4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Serving type: can poured into glass
Appearance: Beautiful, medium chestnut colour. Upon pouring, forms an incredibly rich, foamy head, albeit one that dissipates quickly.
Smell: Not much of a smell, surprisingly, considering what came next
Taste: Oh, WOW. Nicely malty, with little hops bite, but a lovely overall taste that almost disguises the fairly high ABV.. Just a little bit of the taste remains on the back of the tongue after a sip.
Overall: I'm *really* enjoying this six pack!

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Photo of bort11
4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This was in my stocking for Christmas. Thank you Santa!

22 oz bottle, poured into an imperial pint glass. Thick egg-cream colored head, very sticky. Leaves a solid ring on the glass. Color is a dark amber/orange. Quite a bit of bubble activity.

Smell has a toasted malt base, with some orange peel and dark spices in the middle. The orange peel becomes more pronounced in the taste, balanced with some mulling spices and a dark bread malt character.

Mouthfeel is is medium bodied with a crisp carbonation. It is certainly a winter warmer, but is also pretty refreshing too.

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Photo of carolinahophead
4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had to review this beer during Christmas.
A: The beer beer poured a light sunset brown like a clear to partly cloudy winter night. Even a nice snowy head out of a can.
S: A malt lovers dream here with winter spice, let this brew warm up and the aromas come alive.
T: How about vanilla and a malt smoothie ....
A winter warmer to enjoy here with friends.
Maybe a little cinnamon and allspice . Close your eyes and think of fruitcake.
M: A medium mouthfeel with good carbonation and nice finish .
O: A big fan here of AVBC .... Beer geeks a must here for sure . Fun to drink and nice conversation brew as well..

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Photo of chefhatt
4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I poured this beer into a pint glass, it has a copper color body with a strong white 2" white head that is stays around for a while. The smell is like cream soda, vanilla, brown sugar. The taste has a sweet malt start, then a nice sweet cream flavor, also some vanilla in there also. The mouth feel is creamy, smooth and a nice drinker.

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Photo of yemenmocha
4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

What a drinkable winter warmer! Pours a luxurious shade of amber with artfully contrasting head of white. Nose is seductive with caramel and hints of vanilla, with a toasty/biscuity quality as well. On the palate the caramel comes through nicely with a sweet apple to pear fruity quality, and toasty/biscuity character is noted on the palate as well. Nice creamy mouthfeel and toasty finish. A spectacular beer!

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Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
3.86 out of 5 based on 1,806 ratings.
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